When COVID and asthma collide

You can do all the right things and still get COVID!

These days, it really does seem like something that is kicking around. Most of us know at least one person (or 12) who has just tested positive. If he has asthma, it doesn’t make it any less unnerving. It’s a little less scary than 2020 or 2021, but not by much!

During the pandemic, I was a bit neurotic. I was the one cleaning up the groceries and wearing plastic gloves at the grocery store. At first, I wrote a nightly “checklist” to complete to ensure our home remained COVID-free. While some members of my family got together for Christmas, I didn’t.

It was too much, but she knew she had to be diligent because she communicated regularly: “If you have a pre-existing condition, like asthma, COVID could be very difficult for you.” COVID affects your lungs, so if you’re asthmatic, you’re already at risk.

Then came more research, treatments, vaccines, intensified testing, lifted mask mandates, and some people slowly going back to work. Places that sold super unhealthy foods had staff cleaning things up like clockwork. I think we all let our guard down a bit.

I certainly did quite a bit.

I planned a trip to Paris to celebrate my birthday. I had an amazing time. I had croissants and baguettes for dinner. I tried a French perfume. I was wearing a beret. I smiled at the Eiffel tower.

I also continued to wear my mask as much as possible. I washed my hands frequently. I did my best to keep a little distance in a crowded city. I had a wonderful time. And then, just like that: I have COVID!

I have tried several times (maybe 20 or more), either necessary before traveling or because I felt a bit stuffy nose. Every time the test had that beautiful line. Negative! Throw it in the bin!

This time, those two lines appeared almost immediately. I was in a panic. I have asthma, after all! The first days were pure fear. I realized pretty quickly that I would have a little difficulty. At first I didn’t recognize my symptoms, and after testing negative at first, I was a little [re]relaxed with my health protocols. I kept those around me safe by staying away (just in case), but I didn’t attack him with all my effort until I was sure. I was scared. COVID impacts the lungs. Asthma affects the lungs. That’s not a match made in heaven!

After the initial shock, some disappointment (it feels like a failure when you get it) and again, epic fear, I moved to a place of acceptance. I went from fear to fight.

Like many things in life, it became a matter of will. I got my mind right, and then got to work.

This is what I did to get to the other side. Everyone is different, so check with your doctor about these.

  1. I told people that I tested positive, especially if we were close to each other. This seemed to be common practice early on during the pandemic, but I don’t feel like it’s happening as much. It was important to me that people know about it. Some people (like my parents) tested positive. Others around me did not. It was my duty to share. I couldn’t fully focus on my healing until I made sure those around me were up to date.
  2. I checked my vital signs, every few hours at first, then daily. Per doctor’s order, I checked my temperature (making sure it went down every day), my oxygen/O2 levels (making sure it went up every day), my pulse, and blood pressure.
  3. I went to the doctor as soon as I found out it was positive. This may not be necessary for everyone, but since I have asthma (and have been symptom-free for several days), I wanted to know if my lungs sounded okay and if my symptoms were concerning to the doctor. In fact, I went a second time when my cough didn’t subside to make sure I wasn’t showing signs of pneumonia. He did a chest x-ray to make sure my lungs (with the exception of normal swelling) were okay. They were, and that gave me peace of mind.
  4. I concentrated on my breathing. COVID or no COVID, if you are congested and cough frequently, it will be hard for you to breathe. Add asthma to the mix and your lungs won’t be right. It was important for me to focus on deep breathing and pay close attention to any changes in my breathing. One sign of pneumonia is wheezing (or a whistling sound) when you breathe, so I kept an eye out for that. Fortunately, my breathing never got that bad and I avoided pneumonia.
  5. I did some yoga to help me even more with my breathing. I found a video on YouTube specifically for people with COVID who wanted to help open up their chest a little bit to breathe a little easier. That helped! It also helped my anxiety about having COVID. Three cheers for yoga!
  6. I used my rescue inhaler as needed. I found that I needed it a little longer and my doctor encouraged me to use it when I needed it. I didn’t like having to puff, but I didn’t want to have a meltdown either.
  7. My appetite was not very good during the first few days of COVID. But when I did eat (my husband basically begged me to try whatever he brought me on a tray), it was healthy: fruit, unsweetened applesauce, hot soup. I also took vitamins C, D and zinc, which are recommended to keep the immune system strong.
  8. I talked to friends and family to keep my spirits up. Being in quarantine is no fun, especially when you’re outgoing! When a friend asked me what he was doing to pass the time, I said, “Well, I’m done with Netflix!” It is lonely to be in a room isolated and isolated from the world. A few hours can seem like an eternity! Having COVID can play tricks on you, so I had to talk to people to cheer me up when I had the energy. It was a kind of vitamin.
  9. I took a break from work to heal and recover. I got COVID after being out of the office for 2 weeks while on vacation. I didn’t plan a third week! Fortunately, I work for an organization that allows for flexibility and supports a healthy work-life balance. My boss is great. He encouraged me to take the time he needed and I’m glad I did. I firmly believe that this contributed to my recovery.
  10. I prayed. Much has been written about the connection between faith/a spiritual life and health. In my lowest moments, I prayed. I prayed to be healed. Guess what? It worked. It worked.

Photo Credit: Grace Cary/Moment via Getty Images

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.